FILE - In this May 3, 2013, file photo, members of the militant Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) shout slogan during a demonstration in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Islamic Defenders Front, better known for vigilante actions against gays, Christmas decorations and prostitution, has over the past decade and a half repurposed its militia into a force that's as adept at searching for victims buried under earthquake rubble and distributing aid as it is at inspiring fear. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim, File)

PALU, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's Islamic Defenders Front is perhaps best known for its vigilante actions against gays, Christmas decorations and prostitution.

But over the past 15 years it has repurposed its militia into a force that's as adept at searching for victims buried under earthquake rubble and distributing aid as it is at inspiring fear.

In the process it has become an influential player in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation and an accelerant in the country's decades-old cultural war.

Last year saw an earthquake and tsunami hit Palu, earthquakes ravage Lombok and a tsunami wreak havoc on the Sunda Strait coastline. The front was there at each disaster, searching for victims, distributing aid and building temporary housing.

Such activities amplify the hard-line message that religion, not government is the answer.

FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2013, file photo, Indonesian police officers block members of the militant Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) during a demonstration outside Australian Embassy in Jakarta. The Islamic Defenders Front, better known for vigilante actions against gays, Christmas decorations and prostitution, has over the past decade and a half repurposed its militia into a force that's as adept at searching for victims buried under earthquake rubble and distributing aid as it is at inspiring fear. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 23, 2012, file photo, a Muslim protester of Islam Defenders Front (FPI) wears a mock-suicide bomb during a demonstration against Israel's recent offensive against Palestinians in Gaza, outside the building that houses the U.S. consulate in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. The Islamic Defenders Front, better known for vigilante actions against gays, Christmas decorations and prostitution, has over the past decade and a half repurposed its militia into a force that's as adept at searching for victims buried under earthquake rubble and distributing aid as it is at inspiring fear. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara, File)
FILE - In this May 4, 2011, file photo, a member of radical group Islam Defenders Front walks past posters of Osama Bin laden and U.S. President Barack Obama, during prayers for the al-Qaida leader at their headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Islamic Defenders Front, better known for vigilante actions against gays, Christmas decorations and prostitution, has over the past decade and a half repurposed its militia into a force that's as adept at searching for victims buried under earthquake rubble and distributing aid as it is at inspiring fear. (AP Photo/Irwin Fedriansyah, File)
In this Oct. 2, 2018 photo, volunteers of the humanitarian wing of the Islamic Defenders Front examine the damage caused by the earthquake and liquefaction at Balaroa neighborhood in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia Indonesia. Indonesia's Islamic Defenders Front is better known for vigilante actions against gays, Christmas decorations and prostitution, but over the past decade and a half it has repurposed its militia into a force that's as adept at searching for victims buried under earthquake rubble and distributing aid as it is at inspiring fear. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
In this April 3, 2019, photo, local fishermen pull a boat to the beach as a mosque heavily damaged by the 2018 earthquake and tsunami is seen in the background in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.  Indonesia's Islamic Defenders Front is better known for vigilante actions against gays, Christmas decorations and prostitution, but over the past decade and a half it has repurposed its militia into a force that's as adept at searching for victims buried under earthquake rubble and distributing aid as it is at inspiring fear. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
In this April 2, 2019, photo, a member of Islamic Defenders Front paints their group's logo as they help local fishermen to build boats at a fishing village affected by the 2018 tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. The Islamic Defenders Front, known for vigilante actions against gays, Christmas decorations and prostitution, has over the past 15 years repurposed its militia into a force that's as adept at searching for earthquake victims as it is at inspiring fear. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
In this April 2, 2019, photo, members of Islamic Defenders Front paint their group's logo as they help local fishermen to build boats at a fishing village affected by the 2018 tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. The Islamic Defenders Front, known for vigilante actions against gays, Christmas decorations and prostitution, has over the past 15 years repurposed its militia into a force that's as adept at searching for earthquake victims as it is at inspiring fear.(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
In this April 2, 2019, photo, members, center, of Islamic Defenders Front help local fishermen to build boats at a fishing village affected by the 2018 tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. The Islamic Defenders Front, better known for vigilante actions against gays, Christmas decorations and prostitution, has over the past decade and a half repurposed its militia into a force that's as adept at searching for victims buried under earthquake rubble and distributing aid as it is at inspiring fear. In the process it has become an accepted and influential player in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, and an accelerant in Indonesia’s decades old cultural war. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
In this Oct. 2, 2018, photo, a Muslim volunteer of the humanitarian wing of the Islamic Defenders Front takes a break near body bags containing the remains of the earthquake and liquefaction victims recovered from the rubble of Balaroa neighborhood in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia Indonesia. Indonesia's Islamic Defenders Front is better known for vigilante actions against gays, Christmas decorations and prostitution, but over the past decade and a half it has repurposed its militia into a force that's as adept at searching for victims buried under earthquake rubble and distributing aid as it is at inspiring fear. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)